Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
December 8, 1998
Explanation: Is Leo leaking? Leo, the famous sky constellation visible on the left of the above all-sky photograph, appears to be the source of all the meteors seen in this year's Leonids Meteor Shower. That Leonids point back to Leo is not a surprise - it is the reason this November meteor shower is called the Leonids. Sand-sized debris expelled from Comet Tempel-Tuttle follows a well-defined orbit about our Sun, and the part of the orbit that approaches Earth is superposed in front of the constellation Leo. Therefore, when Earth crosses this orbit, the radiant point of falling debris appears in Leo. Over 150 meteors can be seen in the above four-hour exposure. The Geminid Meteor Shower, which appears to eminate from the constellation of Gemini, peaks this coming weekend.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.